The future of golf in Thorold is in good hands, thanks to three rising 14-year-old stars.
Friends and neighbours Anthony Sartor, Ben Hebert and Christian Rotundo are having a terrific summer out on the links.
Sartor is coming off a first-place finish in the PGA sponsored drive, chip and putt competition held at Glen Oaks Golf Club in Amherst, NY.
The competition includes three rounds and the winner will receive a trip to the Masters at Augusta, Georgia next April. The players earn an overall score after three attempts at the longest drive, chipping into targets, and putting in or close to the hole.
Sartor told the Thorold News he has his eye on a pro golf career.
"I'd love to be a pro golfer. The PGA would be a dream to me," he said.
The win in round one also earned Sartor an invitation to the junior world long drive competition held recently in Rochester.
His longest drive there was 230 yards, and while not enough to win, "I got to walk out onto the field with a pro and it was televised on the golf channel," he beamed.
Sartor said he's been playing for three or four years and he hits the courses almost every day with his friend Rotundo. His dedication has seen him win several tournaments already.
"John White is my coach at Beechwood and has helped me improve so much. He's a very good teacher and was on the Canadian PGA tour for 35 years," said the young golfer.
Sartor has also been on the Niagara Junior Golf Team for three years, along with Rotundo and Anthony's brother, Lucas. Brother Owen and little sister Gabriella are into golf as well, as is Sergio, their dad.
His performances on the golf course have also earned him an invitation to the Canadian Junior Championship on Aug. 13, but "I have an exam that day and may not be able to go," he explained.
This Thursday Sartor will be back at Glen Oaks for round two of the PGA competition and, if successful there, will go on to round three in Rochester. A win there sends him to Augusta in April.
Anthony's friend Ben Hebert also competed in the drive, chip and putt competition, and although he didn't finish in one of the top three spots required to move on, he is also enjoying a great year on the courses.
The young golfer has already captured a U.S. kids' Niagara championship title.
Hebert told the Thorold News he is coached by Travis Glass at Eagle Valley and has been golfing since he was two years old and was given a plastic golf set.
"I would like a career in golf. If not as a pro, then working in the industry somehow. Being a golf teacher would be cool," Hebert said.
He finished in the middle of the pack at the drive, chip, putt competition and did the same recently in the US Kids world championship at Pinehurst olf course in North Carolina, shooting an impressive 81.
This fall, he'll enter Grade 9 and is looking forward to joining the Denis Morris golf team.
Golf runs in his family.
"My dad, both grandmothers, and my grandmother on my mother's side all golf," he noted.
Christian Rotundo credits his backyard neighbours, the Sartor family, with getting him into the game.
"I saw Anthony and his brothers playing and I wanted to give it a try," he told the Thorold News.
"They all play competitively and I was just playing for fun in previous years. But, this year, I got a membership at Beechwood and Brock. I played in a best ball tournament at Brock, and got hooked," he said. "Then I ended up doing the U.S. kids' tournament."
He, too, competed at the drive, chip and putt competition and he also has John White at Beechwood as his coach.
"I play almost every day, either on the course or at the driving range," he said. "And I try to get into one or two tournaments each week."
He's realistic about a future in golf, and said, "I'd like to be a pro golfer but have a lot of work to do before that."
"I play for fun and the pressure doesn't get to me. I do my best and whatever happens, happens," he added with a down-to-earth attitude.
Heading into Grade 10 at Denis Morris, Rotundo said, "I'll play as long as I can and try my best to be a pro golfer."
With three young prospects in the same neighbourhood, it seems Thorold may soon be on the map of the golfing world.